Through our blogs, we frequently remind our readers of the importance of safety around on the roads and around trains and railroad crossings. Train collisions are incredibly dangerous, especially due to the immense size of trains and the speeds at which they travel. For these reasons, train accidents can cause victims to suffer serious personal injuries or even death. Illinois is a major hub for interstate train travel and accidents are unfortunately all too common. Both passenger and freight trains pass through all of Illinois in high frequency, and for that reason, it is imperative that people practice safety and vigilance when around trains and crossings.
One recent accident reported by ABC highlights the importance of using caution and common sense around train crossings in order to protect and our passengers. According to the article, a mother and three of her children were en route to a Halloween parade in Vandalia, Illinois when the mother decided to drive her SUV around a set of railroad gates, putting the vehicle in the path of a freight train. As a result, she and the three children were kill and a fourth child suffered injury. Illinois State Police have confirmed from their investigation that that the crossing gates were down with lights flashing when the driver went around the gates. The train camera also recorded the accident, which supports that this driver was not stuck in traffic but volitionally went around the gates. The article explains that even though this is a congested area and that it was rainy, this driver still should have been able to see the train coming. The train engineer also tried to alert the driver by sounding the bell and whistle.
There are many steps we can take to be safe around railroads and trains. Operation Lifesaver is a great resource for rail safety education and tips. For one, freight trains do not travel at scheduled times, and schedules for passenger trains continually change; for that reason, a driver should always expect a train at a highway-rail intersection, like in the accident described above. Also, unlike cars that can change lanes or turn around, trains are on specific tracks they cannot leave. For that reason they cannot swerve or stop quickly, so they have the right of way 100% of the time. Also, because trains are so large, they actually extend beyond the tracks, which means to be safe, individuals must be well beyond three feet away from the rails. Unlike the olden days, trains are now significantly quieter than ever too, so it is important to remember that a train can be approaching much faster than we think or is closer than it seems. Furthermore, always be alert around trains, crossings, and tracks. Avoid distractions in these locations by not using your phone or listening to music because you may be able to see or hear a train approaching. Lastly, obey all signs and signals posted at tracks, including gates, lights, and alarms. Do not try to beat a train to the crossing by racing across the tracks, and never drive around closed gates.
Our attorneys wish to promote safety and prevent the loss of lives throughout our Illinois community. Train accidents are extremely dangerous, and often deadly. Please remember these safety tips, and keep yourselves and others free from harm’s way around railroads and trains. Your choices could save the life of yourself and others.